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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Now is the time to seek an independent Welsh Civil Service

Dame Gillian Morgan announced yetserday that she is retiring as permanent secretary to the Welsh Government after four years in the post.

During her time in the post she has had to suffer accusations from one former Minister that her civil servants were obsessed with process and had effectively prevented him from doing his job properly. She has also clashed with departments in the UK Government, suggesting that they do not understand devolution.

It strikes me that Dame Gillian's departure is an opportune moment to review the position of the Welsh Government's civil service, which I believe employs around 6,000 people.  It makes no sense to me that despite having our own Government and the ability to pass our own laws, those responsible for developing policy, administering our budget and writing legislation are answerable through the Permanent Secretary to a Westminster-based civil service.

It could be argued that this link is symbolic but that appears to be far from the case. The Permanent Secretary is a member of the Home Civil Service, and therefore takes part in the Permanent Secretaries Management Group of the UK Civil Service and is answerable to the most senior civil servant in the UK, the head of the Civil Service, for her professional conduct. She remains, however, at the direction of the Welsh Ministers.

I believe that the appointment is made by the UK Civil Service also, though the First Minister will be consulted on this. That should change. The Permanent Secretary of the Welsh Government should be appointed by them and answerable to them.
Here, I am, for once in agreement with you. If only you posted all my comments which adhere to your guidelines, not just the one which aren't critical of the LibDems.

Wales' devolution settlement seems to have been devised on the back of an envelope, and, like the UK's 'unwritten' constitution, is, frankly, a mess. But then, so is just about everything in the UK. I can't think of anything run by the state which is done well.

Why don't you spell out your party's belief in a federal UK.. which would require a written constitution... where the powers and responsibilites of the various federal parliaments/assemblies would be defined, including the role of their respective civil services?
Why dont you read our manifesto and much of the stuff we write which has that believe in Federalism at its heart?
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